SPIDER-MAN: THE COMPLETE CLONE SAGA EPIC BOOK 4 (Marvel, 2010; Softcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 402-404, New Warriors No. 61, The Spectacular Spider-Man Nos. 225-227, Spider-Man Nos. 59-61, Spider-Man: The Jackal Files, Spider-Man: Maximum Clonage Alpha, Spider-Man: Maximum Clonage Omega and Web of Spider-Man Nos. 125-127 (cover dates June- August, 1995).
Writers: Tom DeFalco, J.M. DeMatteis, Todd Dezago and many others.
Artists: Mark Bagley, Sal Buscema, Bill Sienkewicz and many others.
Okay, I am beginning to see exactly why people hated the Clone Saga. The amount of backpedaling and “everything you know is a lie” and “the truth is finally revealed” drove me nuts, especially when each new reveal contradicted the previous reveal and established continuity. The sheer number of Spider-titles, crossovers, and one-shots that Marvel literally required you to buy in order to follow the story is ludicrous. Think about it...this book is well over 400 pages, and that's only 3 months worth of product.
The writing and artwork don't help this book's cause along much. Much of it is overwritten, with Todd Dezago's dialogue being the worst offender. His characterization of the Jackal is pitiful, especially when compared to Gerry Conway's original version of the character. The artwork ranges from Bagley's competent take on Spider-Man to Roy Burdine's horrible, distorted artwork. His pencils were accompanied by Randy Emberlin and Don Hudson's inks.
Just look at this drawing from Web of Spider-Man No. 126. Look at the leg and the size of Spider-Man's head in relation to his body. This is the work of a professional comic book artist? Sadly, this was par for the course in the 1990s.
Next up in Web of Spider-Man No. 127 is this exceptionially craptastic rendition of the Punisher by Steven Butler (pencils) and Randy Emberlin (inks). Was he on steroids or something? The Punisher strength level is, according to The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: The Punisher possesses the normal human strength of a man his age, height and build who engages in intensive regular exercise. How on Earth did the Punisher get so muscular? And why are his hands so small in relation to his arms?
Equally stupid is this drawing a few pages later in the same issue, by the same artist. How did that extra belt get there in the midst of the fight sequence? It's things like this that helped make the '90s the worst decade in the history of comic books.
Not everything here sucks, though. There are definite moments of goodness in storytelling, character development, and, occasionally, even the artwork. The shortcomings in this book seemed to far outweigh the goodness, but hey, it's Spider-Man. I can't hate it too much, and my completist OCD compels me to see it through to the end.
The OCD zone- I frickin' love the paper that Marvel used in this book. It's a dull matte finish coated stock, not too thick, not too thin. I also adore these 400+ page monster trade paperbacks, as they help cover a ton of ground quickly.